Solar power converter - Fiberglass RV


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Old 07-22-2012, 07:09 PM   #1
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Solar power converter

The power converter in my "new" 1984 scamp 5th is bad. Actually it is torn apart under the cupboard so I am assuming it is bad LOL. The question I have is I am going to put good sized solar panels on the rig and I'm wondering if there is a power converter out there that will handle and automatically designate the power from the solar panels, the 110, and the 12 volt batteries. My previous solar system had separate electronics for the solar and since I now need to change this old converter out anyway I'd like to modernize/simplify as much as possible.
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Steve
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Old 07-22-2012, 08:25 PM   #2
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As the solar controller has to be sized for the panels you are using, I doubt if you will find a combo unit.
However, if you are starting a new electrical system from scratch, I can recommend that you look at the Progressive Dynamics PD-4045 power center. It will give you new everything except the solar controller. Available on eBay for less than $150.
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Old 07-22-2012, 08:37 PM   #3
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The converter is used to charge you battery. The solar panel with charge controller is used to charge your battery. Your tow vehicle charges your battery. Do away with the converter, it's not necessary.
I turned mine off last year and haven't needed it. When sitting at home I use a Battery Tender to keep the battery charged since my solar is NOT permanently mounted. When traveling the tow and solar do the job.
If I had a permanently mounted solar panel system I would need anything else.
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Old 07-22-2012, 10:21 PM   #4
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AC, DC, Solar, Convertors, Generators.

Everyone's travel style and trailer use is different. Here's the view of an almost continuous traveler.

Personally I think AC, DC, Solar, Converters and Generators all have their place.

Most of our camping is done with electric hookups. yet we have a solar panel and sometimes a small generator.

The solar panel and generator let us go to the many wonderful places where there is no power. Some of these places are very special, others are just out of the way places on a quite BLM river or along some no traffic road in Labrador or where ever...

Even when we are in a park with electricity we have our Convertor off these days because our solar panels do the battery charging..... unless we have an extended period of heavy rain or cloudiness, only than do we plug in our convertor to charge our battery.

Between 12 volts and propane we are capable of a 1-3 months without any utilities. This is comforting, sort of the same reason Ginny always has a couple of cans of Spam on hand. It's nice to know that for what ever reason we have the ability to be independent.

Most of our lights are 12 volt LEDs and need the battery or at least converter to operate. As well our water pump requires 12 volts to operate. Our battery, convertor, solar panel and inverter insure that where ever we are we can charge our phones, computers or get on the internet.

Even when connected to city water the water system in the park often goes down, at least a couple of times in a year of travel and it's nice to have the pump. It may seem trivial but the independence of an RV is valuable.

One year we were in a large metropolitain area near Seattle. A winter storm knocked down many of the NWs really big trees blocking roads. Power was lost yet we were able to run our rig and actually feed family in the area in our rig because they were without power and we had a self powerable rig.

We've also had the same thing happen at our home in NH where we just moved into the rig from the house. Independence is not to be undervalued. It's a nice little insurance policy at home or on the road and on the road it lets you see many wondrous places that plugging in do not permit.

This year we discovered some wonderful campgrounds deep in the Chiricahau Mts, no plugs in there, similarly with much of Labrador.

A battery, a converter, an Inverter, a Solar Panel add a lot of flexibility to life on the road.
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Old 07-23-2012, 09:04 AM   #5
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What about fuses

What about a control panel, fuses, etc? I suppose I could just run 2 separate electrical systems, 110 and 12v. I've had RV's for years but have rarely gotten involved with the electrical systems.
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Old 07-23-2012, 11:17 AM   #6
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I'm happy with the way UHaul wired my trailer. There is a small metal box with a circuit breaker and a GFCI outlet for 110 volts. From this box a 110v wire runs to the converter which has an integral fuse panel that distributes power to all the individual lights, fans, battery, etc. The solar controller is mounted on the side of the battery and has a short lead directly to the battery.

If you wanted to get fancy, you could install a few more 110 volt outlets wired back to the main box.
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Old 07-23-2012, 11:45 AM   #7
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Everyone is a different camper and has different needs and wants.

I (essentially) refuse to stay anywhere that I would not have access to 30A power, so I need the converter every time my trailer moves outta the driveway, and I have very little need for a battery bank and NO need whatever for solar. Others do not need a converter so much as their battery bank and solar etc works for them.

I almost made a BIG mistake a few days ago.

I found an incredible deal on - and was therefore contemplating purchasing a big inverter/charger for my Bigfoot (Xantrex Freedom 2000) - pure sine wave power, multi-stage intelligent charger etc.

And then it occurred to me - "WHAT ARE YOU DOING, YOU NITWIT? "

In point of fact I have never even come close to running down a single group 24 battery (while away), and if it were not for the requirement to have a battery to power the emergency break-away system on the brakes, I'd likely not need a battery at all! (Well - actually, yes, - sort of - a battery is sometimes needed to keep the memory alive on the fridge and to run the propane/CO2 detectors etc and the way the trailer is wired a batt is needed to complete circuits for some stuff, as well.)

However, in general, for my style of trailer usage, the presence of a battery is just a royal pain in the heinie!

I can never remember to disconnect the battery when I get home (despite having a disconnect switch!) so next time I want to go somewhere, it is dead, and has to be recharged. It needs to be replaced about once a year (expen$ive) because of having been run down to below 8 volts about 5 times a year while sitting in the driveway, and so it is just one more co$tly maintenance item.

On mine, it is ONLY the converter that gets used - plug it into 'shore power" and you have both AC and DC power to your heart's content - no need for ridiculously expen$ive $olar power, inverters, chargers etc.. Air cond can then be used, along with microwave and all the comforts that make it worthwhile
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Old 07-23-2012, 04:17 PM   #8
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Wow, I should introduce you to my ex, LOL. Her idea of roughing it was staying in a Motel 6 rather than a Hilton. Seriously, I spend a lot of time traveling between destinations and I sleep over in my share of rest stops and Walmarts to save cash while on the road. I teach school in Las Vegas and when the final bell rings for the summer I am outta that heat and heading for the Pacific Northwest, for 3 months. I have property at Ocean Shores, amongst other places, with no power or water. One year I camped there for 2 months using only solar to charge the batteries. The amazing thing was it was a cool cloudy two months without much sun and the heater running quite a bit. Never had a battery problem.
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Old 07-23-2012, 04:37 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Hammel View Post
.......... I'm wondering if there is a power converter out there that will handle and automatically designate the power from the solar panels, the 110, and the 12 volt batteries. .........
Steve, I'm not clear what you are asking in the quote above. Why can't you just feed the solar controller output and the converter output to the battery and pull all power off the battery?
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Old 07-23-2012, 04:50 PM   #10
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Quote:
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Steve, I'm not clear what you are asking in the quote above. Why can't you just feed the solar controller output and the converter output to the battery and pull all power off the battery?
Tom is absolutely correct.
That's what I was doing before I turned off the converter.

All charging devices have a shut off point, generally maximum voltage The device with highest maximum voltage will be the winner. That's the one that will do the work, the others will have turned off.
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Old 07-24-2012, 09:45 AM   #11
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All of your advice has sure simplified things in my mind. I suppose I was worried about the solar and the converter crossing paths and burning each other out or something to that effect.
Thanks
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Old 07-24-2012, 01:10 PM   #12
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Steve, I also have a small solar controller permanently connected directly to the battery and mounted in a waterproof box on the side of my battery box (part of my keep it simple policy) and I have a converter.... no cross path issues.
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Old 07-24-2012, 01:27 PM   #13
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Steve, I also have a small solar controller permanently connected directly to the battery and mounted in a waterproof box on the side of my battery box (part of my keep it simple policy) and I have a converter.... no cross path issues.
I think this was all settled back in the 1800's when Ohm's Law was first enacted.
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Old 07-24-2012, 01:41 PM   #14
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I think this was all settled back in the 1800's when Ohm's Law was first enacted.
Dang, I thought part of was when Kirchoff's law was enacted.
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